We are being told that gender doesn’t matter; that boys and girls are to be treated alike. It isn’t that new. Back when my girls were little, there was an attempt to put the girls and boys on the same soccer and baseball teams because gender shouldn’t matter in sports. That didn’t last long and we were back to girls’ softball and soccer and volleyball.
Have you ever noticed how women interact more with each other than men do? We tend to be more in each other’s faces. While men are talking sports, we are getting personal. “How are your children doing?” “Do your grandchildren go to church?” “How long did you date before you married?” “Why aren’t you homeschooling? “You are feeding your family organic, clean foods?!” It is my observation that this interaction frequently leads to trouble and conflict. Women start telling each other what they think and what the other person should do! That is why this topic of Christian liberty is so important to women.
I have also observed that where the Moral Law has been put aside as a standard of right and wrong, Christian liberty is frequently abused. Others who have figured out what is “right for them” without using any objective standard start telling their friends what is right or wrong. Confusion reigns. Church leaders get involved and set the standard where they think it should be. Children have to be handled a certain way, modesty is defined and spelled out, submission has to look just so. Not using the Ten Commandments leads to many, many commands from other women and church leaders and within families.
Another reason this topic is so important to women is our position in Christian culture. A right understanding of Christian liberty leads one to understand that only God is lord of one’s conscience, our sense of right and wrong. But, when we are told to submit to our husbands and to our church leaders (especially in an environment where the Ten Commandments are not taught), following the rules and believing they are correct relieves our guilt as well as our responsibility. Christian liberty falls to the wayside.
I once studied the Bible under a very charismatic teacher with a strong personality. She was a classic example of a church leader who abused Christian liberty. She became carried away with her own importance. Soon she was telling individuals how to handle their husbands, their children, their in-laws. Christian fellowship was emphasized so much that most had no time for any other relationships outside of the group. No one had ever heard of a historic Confession of Faith or of anything called Christian liberty. We were pretty ignorant of church history too. Soon if anyone dared to disagree, it was hinted they were unbelievers. If they didn’t conform, then soon they were avoided. It really was not a Bible study but a cult. When I was introduced to Confessions of Faith within historic Christianity, I turned immediately to the passage on Christian liberty!
Christians are to enjoy their liberty. One of the main themes of the New Testament is that in Christ we are free. Paul talked about being delivered from corruption into the “glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). There is liberty where the Spirit’s role and function are understood. A.A. Hodge, the first principal of Princeton Seminary, spoke of liberty as “a privilege of all the children God.” Paul encouraged the Galatians to stand up for the freedom they had in Christ. Christians have been called to be free.
“For freedom Christ has set us free;” (Galatians 5:1).
Have you forgotten this? Would you feel guilty even thinking such a thought?
“For you are called to freedom, brothers” (Galatians 5:13).
Called to freedom? Does that include “sisters?” Of course. This was a letter to the whole church. It was about standing firmly together on the truths of the gospel. It had nothing to do with gender roles. I am far from a feminist!
“…stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Stand up for this liberty you have in Christ. Don’t be put in a yoke like an ox to be driven along by another. Don’t let others rob you of the freedom inherent in the gospel of grace by adding rules and regulations to tell you what is right and wrong. You do not earn your salvation; it is a free gift to all those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He is Lord over you. No one else is. Not other women. Not our pastor or church leaders. Not even our husband in these matters of conscience. Enjoy the liberty that Christ suffered and died to purchase for you. Use it withthe Moral Law as a guide and standard.
“And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).